By Joan Josep Lladregòtic, Airbnb landlord
All out of breath from the hike up the stairs with his few extra kilos, Rafa gasps that he has been robbed. He has lost passports, cash, traveler’s checks, a laptop, insulin kit, assisted breathing machine, cameras and his cell phone. His traveling companion is waiting at the bottom of the stairs with the heavy luggage. Rafa sits down mopping his brow and lets me go get the luggage.
People and luggage up the stairs and into the flat, and out comes their vodka. She dives into the freezer without asking for some ice. Meanwhile, I am trying to put this chaos into some sort of order: must cancel credit cards, make police report, sort out the insulin supply, get new passports. This means spending my Sunday afternoon with these new acquaintances and leaving them my old desktop computer to save them from the horrors of the neighborhood locutorios.
This is le dernier crit of Barcelona visitors who use the Internet to book flats from private citizens like myself in order to see the city the way a native would. The only problem is that they don’t look or sound like natives. Quite the contrary, actually. Their appearances advertise affluence, expensive toys, cash, phones, and credit cards.
They feel savvy having found a nice place to stay with a local host at a very affordable price. However, instead of using some of the money they saved on a taxi from the airport, they push their luck a bit too far and take a bus, switch to the Metro and hike what the thieves have left of their luggage up the last 500 meters to the doorstep.
Rafa claimed to have lost around 20 thousand US dollars in cash and valuables that was in a bag curiously not physically attached to his person: lots of cash for gambling on the cruise ship and the rest in high-tech goodies. He keeps repeating mantra-like what was in the stolen bag. Does he want to impress me or is he trying to make himself believe what has happened? I get to wondering if he is trying to make us all believe, insurance company included.
Their four days in Barcelona are basically spent going hither and thither from the police station, Canadian embassy and the like. The morning of their departure, I find they have left me the gift of their empty bottles and other rubbish to thank me for my troubles. I am thinking of charging extra for North Americans next time.